The Descent of Monsters is the third novella in the silpunk fantasy series Tensorate. It does not follow the twins anymore, not directly, and it’s told completely through letters, parts of diaries and reports.
I didn’t like this novella as much as the first two books, for two main reasons: the format, and the main character.
One of the things I liked the most about the first two books was the atmosphere, especially the description of the setting. Because of the format, I didn’t get many of them here, and this book has a completely different tone from the first two – it’s almost horror, but not my kind of horror. Reading about terrifying megafauna was great, but everything about it felt distant because of the way this book was written, and horror should not feel distant.
What I liked about the megafauna experimentation aspect, apart from the fact that there are dinosaurs and of course I appreciate that, is that it really makes you wonder who are the monsters.
My main problem with Tensor Chuwan Sariman, our new main character, was that she just wasn’t that interesting. I would have loved to read this book from almost every other character’s PoV but hers, and since a significant part of the book (my favorite part) was also not told in her PoV but in Rider’s, I ended up feeling like I didn’t know her at all when I reached the ending. I don’t know much about her apart from the fact that she swears a lot and has a wife she never sees.
Small Spoiler-y Section
Also, Sariman dies. All-queer cast, so it’s not like it’s a problem or anything, but I can’t say I liked that – I read this book right after another in which a similar thing happened, and I’m just kind of tired of seeing f/f couples being torn apart by death.
While I didn’t particularly like Sariman as a main character, I do get why this book was told from her PoV – every rebellion has casualties, but that’s a point of view we rarely get, so much that we’re used to them being expendable characters in fiction.
What saved this book for me were the side characters. I loved seeing Akeha again – I love them so much [they started using they/them pronouns in this book because they realized they could after meeting Rider. They started using he/him in the first book because of societal pressure. I love reading about characters figuring themselves out] – and Mokoya is still awesome, even if she’s barely there. Rider’s diary and quest were also what I was really invested in while reading this story. I wish I could have cared about Sariman just as much, but that didn’t happen.
Also, what’s Sonami’s deal?
Even if The Descent of Monsters was somewhat disappointing considering how much I loved the previous books, I still can’t wait for To Ascend to Godhood.
My rating: ★★★½